Inspiration4 crew describes ‘incredible perspective’ from space – Spaceflight Now



The Inspiration4 crew downloads a live update for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX

On their last full day in space on Friday, the all-civilian Inspiration4 crew circling the earth inside a SpaceX Dragon capsule chatted with Tom Cruise, rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange and broadcast a live video update showing views outside their dome. the window.

The crew members demonstrated acrobatic rotations in the microgravity environment aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, described science experiments that were part of the mission, and demonstrated artistic endeavors, including sketches and a brief musical performance.

Jared Isaacman, the billionaire businessman and civilian pilot who paid for the first fully private crew flight into orbit, thanked his subscribers for their support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the non-profit institution that is the subject of a fundraising campaign linked to the Inspiration4 mission.

“A big part of our mission here at Inspiration4 is to inspire what can be done here in space because there is so much of it,†Isaacman, 38, said in a video downlink from the space at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) Friday. “We have to go out and explore it, but we also have our responsibilities that we have to take care of on Earth, and at the top of our list right now is beating childhood cancer. That’s why we support St. Jude.

The mission aims to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude, including $ 100 million personally donated by Isaacman.

“We know how lucky we are to be here,†Isaacman said. “We’re giving all of our time right now to scientific research and ukulele playing, and trying to raise awareness for a cause that’s important to us on Earth.”

The Inspiration4 crew took part in a question-and-answer session Thursday with patients in St. Jude, the day after their launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Friday’s video update was the crew’s first live public downlink. Space-to-ground communications are broadcast publicly throughout NASA flights to and from the International Space Station, in accordance with the government agency charter to be open.

But radio transmissions between the Inspiration4 crew and SpaceX mission control were not publicly accessible, limiting real-time information about the crew’s activities in orbit.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is in near constant communication with SpaceX mission control via voice and data links provided by NASA’s network of tracking and data relay satellites. The Crew Dragon can only link live video during passes over ground stations.

Ground crews will retrieve high-resolution photos and high-definition video recordings, including footage from a 360-degree GoPro camera, after Team Inspiration4 returns to Earth on Saturday night.

During their 10-minute video update on Friday, the Inspiration4 team looked healthy and in good spirits as they approach 48 hours of their mission.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is fully automated, with ground crews at SpaceX headquarters in California able to send commands or change capsule settings. Isaacman’s crew are trained to live and work aboard the spacecraft, or respond to emergencies.

On Saturday, the crew will don their bespoke SpaceX pressure suits and prepare for re-entry into the atmosphere.

The Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft fired thrusters twice Friday night to lower its orbit to as high as 366 miles (590 kilometers) – higher than anyone who flew from a space shuttle flight to the Hubble Space Telescope ago. two decades – about 226 miles (365 kilometers), according to SpaceX.

The elevation change sets in for a deorbitation at 6:16 p.m. EDT (2216 GMT) on Saturday. The braking maneuver will allow the Crew Dragon’s orbit to fall back into the atmosphere, lining up the capsule for a parachute-assisted ditching in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral at 7:06 p.m. EDT (11:06 p.m. GMT).

SpaceX’s recovery team will be on standby to hoist the capsule out of the ocean. Salvage ship personnel will then assist the crew members to exit the spacecraft, and the crew will return to Kennedy Space Center by helicopter.

A glimpse of life in space with the Inspiration4 crew

“We are currently sailing 580 kilometers above Earth at around 7.6 kilometers per second, so we are really reserving,†Isaacman said during Friday’s live event.

The space flyers opened the spaceship’s front hatch leading to a SpaceX domed window built for the Inspiration4 mission. The three-layered plexiglass observation dome provides a panoramic view of Earth and space, replacing the docking port used for Dragon missions to the International Space Station.

“Every time we step into the dark, we have a stunning view,†said Sian Proctor, 51, a geology professor and artist who won a seat for the Inpsiration4 mission. “Oh, that looks like dawn! Oh wow! “

Later, Proctor showed a sketch she made in orbit using metal markers, and Chris Sembroski, a Seattle data engineer who won her spot in a lottery, played with a custom ukulele built for the mission.

“Because we are trying to open the border to more people and to open up the space to more humans, we are going to bring more of our humanities with us, as well as art and music,†said Sembroski.

Hayley Arceneaux, the crew’s medical officer and, at 29, the youngest American to fly in orbit, recovered a plush golden retriever chosen as the mission’s “zero-g indicator.” It is a spaceflight tradition for a crew to select an object of personal or symbolic importance as an indicator of microgravity to begin to float once a spacecraft reaches orbit.

The toy depicts therapy dogs for patients in St. Jude. Similar stuffed animals are for sale, with the money going to the nonprofit research hospital.

Arceneaux is a former patient of St. Jude and a survivor of childhood bone cancer. She is now a medical assistant at the hospital and helps oversee the human biology experiments on the Inspiration4 mission.

“It’s really interesting to see how fluids move with this microgravity environment, and it’s something that scientists are studying, so we’re happy to contribute to it,†she said. “We also took several swabs from different parts of our body to assess the microbiome and how it changes during those three days in space.”

The crew members also donate blood samples and undergo cognitive tests, allowing scientists to look for any changes during the flight. The spacecraft also carries a portable ultrasound machine.

Earlier today on Friday, the Inspiration4 team spoke with Tom Cruise and rang the New York Stock Exchange closing bell from a distance. But the crew spent much of their time relishing the sights and thrills of space flight.

“We spent so much time in its dome,†Arceneaux said. “It’s the largest window ever flown in space. We can put our heads in there and fit in several crew members into it, and see the entire perimeter of the Earth, which is such an amazing prospect.

“And the views, I must say, are out of this world.”

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.


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